"FIRST THEY ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." These words of Nicholas Klein are often misattributed to Ghandi. But the misappropriation of one’s words are just one example of how the truth of things often becomes distorted.
People believing something doesn't make it true. People ignoring you doesn't make you or your ideals irrelevant. People laughing at you doesn't make you incompetent. People fighting you doesn't make you worthy of being despised. Ultimately, the winning in all of the aforementioned is when the truth plainly and clearly shows itself and it can no longer be denied or resisted. The current truth I would like to deal with is the condition of those in the African Diaspora. The time for talking is past and action is the now the only alternative.
There are many racial initiatives and programs going on these days and given my background in Anthropology, Philosophy, and Education, most people expect for me to be interested in or engaged with many of the seminars available on “race” right now especially those that are addressing the racism that exists in my religious group, the colorism among people in my tribe and other tribal levels of connection, and even the disparities on a larger community level that address the engagement of the "black" community with the modern day police force which has quite a complex history in this our United States of America.
The main reason many will find me absent from discussions they might expect me to be present in, knowing full well how passionate I am about Afircan liberation across the entire Diaspora, is because I do not engage in conversations that ignore deeply examined, sensible premises in order to support conversations that can truly lead us forward. Educating our young people, ourselves, or even others outside of our cultural group about The African Diaspora experience must transcend above and beyond presenting information that begins at a historical view that only acknowledges Africans post European or post Arab contact.
It is not sensible nor is it an honest approach to continue to pretend Africa was the “Dark Continent “ and nothing of value occurring there until outside contact. It is impossible to understand anything of any society in the Earth and not recognize the origin of organized society IS Africa. The first place for man to have a religious idea and expression for example to have the cognition and spiritual awareness to bury their dead happened in Africa first. The first Universities in the world exisited in Africa first and therefore were the first seats of Philosophical thought. Hippocrates, Socrates, and Plato all admitted that whatever knowledge they had they had garnered out of "Kemmet" (in Egypt) and brought it back to Greece, modified it, interpreted it and fit it to fit the back drop of the culture of Greco-Roman cultures. So when you want to talk to me about the plight of African people, understand that if you are not bringing me the whole story and with a clear lens through which not only to understand Africa of the past, present and future, I am unable to meet you where you stand. African culture and condition is much greater than a snippet of 700 years.
I do not engage in conversations that merely talk about personalities and accomplishments of individuals without recognizing the long-term implications of long standing, vast kingdoms and their impact on the world and then subsequently them meeting their demise through a global phenomena that goes ignored constantly and therefore is the common and undeniable root and cause of the majority of the injustice and oppression currently in the world today. A true conversation about African liberation must address what happened and why and the part EVERYBODY has played in it because knowingly or unknowingly most everyone has had some involvement even if you have only been used unwittingly by the invisible hand of greedy and powerful governments.
This is the age of information. Being educated is mostly a click away from any of us at anytime. If you are not a part of the solution, try not to be a part of the problem, and a big part of the problem is ignorance....being unaware. Many of the current seminars, initiatives. and series presented since the surge after the death of George Floyd have been beneficial to showcase certain public speakers, or met with glee by a staff (particularly in schools) who are required to spend a certain amount of dollars on professional developments yearly, and I'm sure plenty of money has been made. Bottom line, what has been accomplished in the knowledge gained that will be life changing for the people attending the seminar? What can professionals, especially teachers take away from it that teaches them to ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS of the right people and of the right time?
The problem is and has always been that history repeats itself when not being accurately known or understood. There seems to be a wide and fearful disconnect when we look at world history and American history when it comes to dealing with our relationship to Africa. It's time to come out of the dark and realize, education frees, not shackles. I beleive we (Americans) are strong enough to look at our history, all of it--although it is complex and problematic. We can examine it in a realistic and wholistic way that allows us to analyze it and consider its implications for our current life and our futures. Don't be afraid to do just that. Our Universe is uni=one, verse =song. Don’t be afraid to sing along. Peace and blessings All.
Janice West is an Islamic School educator as well as a relationship coach. She holds a degree in Anthropology from Wichita State university and is certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Janice lives with her family in Chicago, Illinois.
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